I was seated with a friend in a garden when four young good looking boys drove in a Mercedes Benz car; I mean those expensive ones.
They were polite, and they sat just next to us. Very cool, calm boys. Before you knew it we were all having same conversation. One thing led to another and these boys told us what they do for a living. They are into foodstuffs; yam and perishables to be precise.
They source for their farm produce from Benue and Plateau villages, then move them down South for sale. I asked how they are able to break even considering the cost of transportation and how expensive foodstuffs are sold in the markets?
But they smiled instead, then explained how they have people positioned in the local markets in the villages and they have a strategy. These men are instructed not to buy any foodstuff until late in the evenings.
So, villagers come to the markets with their farm produce early and there are no much buyers available. These villagers stay put in the markets hoping and praying buyers show up because they have pressing needs at home to sort out with the money and returning home without selling these items could spell doom.
Around 5:30pm, buyers will start to pop up in these markets. They start to haggle prices. For instance, if a basket of tomatoes is originally N5,000, these prospective buyers will price same quantity of tomatoes for N500. If the farmer refuses, they will move on to the next person. This they will go round the market doing and when it is 6 – 6:30pm, farmers are left with no choice but to sell their farm produce at give away prices to these middle men amidst anger, grumbling and frustration.
When the long vehicles are done loading and moving the farm produce down South, these young men are cashing out on a weekly. They told me they can buy four pieces of very big yam for N300, and once down South, the same yam would be sold at N800 a piece. These boys are steadily smiling to the banks while the poor farmers go back to their houses on near empty pockets with their hopes dashed. All their hard labour, time and money that went into months of cultivation have yielded nothing but just a few thousands of Naira.
These middle men live large on the sweat and sufferings of poor farmers. They drive posh cars, buy the newest houses and gadgets from proceeds of greed and man’s inhumanity against fellow man.
By every standard, these young men are making money legitimately but their approach is crude. They indirectly are sending many into debt, bankruptcy and even early graves. How else would you define blood money!
There are many Nigerians whose every property; houses, cars, electronics, gadgets, tablespoons etc were bought off people in distress. For instance, if your house is worth N45m, all things being equal, these people will price that same house N3m when you are in distress and still tell you with a bold face how they are just doing you a favour with their ridiculous offer.
I have come to the realisation that most of us are wicked opportunists. The most unfortunate aspect of it all is that we seem to have normalized cutting corners and using such cruel and stifling business strategies. Most of us have no human sympathy any more. No conscience. We are just selfish and greedy. Very deadly vultures masquerading as humans using the most trying times in people’s lives to amass wealth.
While it is true you are just a business man/woman offering services, it’s capitalism and smart business after all, but it is sure some level of inhumanity. There should be a limit to harsh bargaining and high profiteering because it stems from a place of greed and sheer wickedness.
While we encourage government at all levels to do their best in terms of making sure the relevant agencies in charge of price control are up and doing, we as individuals must not lose our humanity on the altar of capitalism.